Georgia bids farewell to iconic ballerina Vera Tsignadze, 22 Jun 2016 - 14:07, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s first prima ballerina Vera Tsignadze has been laid to rest in the gardens of Tbilisi State Opera House in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

Hundreds of mourners paid their last respects to the iconic ballerina at her funeral yesterday. Tsignadze passed away on Saturday at the age of 91.

She was buried in the garden of the Tbilisi State Opera House yesterday, June 21, next to the graves of other famous artists and theatre personalities including composer Zakaria Paliashvili and conductor Odysseas Dimitriadis.

The funeral service for Tsignadze was held at the Tbilisi State Opera House, where people came from all over the country to honour the dancer who was regarded as one of the founders of the professional Georgian ballet.

The funeral service for Tsignadze was held on Tuesday at the Tbilisi State Opera House, which she had been associated with since 1946. Photo from State Ballet of Georgia/Facebook.

Tsignadze shared the informal honour with famous dancer and ballet master, late Vakhtang Chabukiani, with whom Tsignadze partnered for decades at the Tbilisi State Ballet and Opera Theatre starting in 1946.

The two ballet dancers were the first in Georgia to dance internationally recognised classical ballet roles in iconic ballets including Giselle, Swan Lake and Othello, which paved the way for future generations of Georgian performers.

Born in 1924, Tsignadze received her early dance training in Azerbaijan where she danced at the Baku Opera and Ballet State Theatre from 1943-1946.

Tsignadze pictured with famous dancer and ballet master, late Vakhtang Chabukiani, with whom she partnered for most of her dancing career.

After this she was invited by Chabukiani to join the Tbilisi State Opera. Tsignadze spent three decades dancing as Georgia’s prima ballerina before moving on to teach ballet to younger dancers.

As well as performing in Tbilisi, Tsignadze danced in several international tours, which included performing at the famous Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow in 1954 with Chabukiani.

See late Georgian dancers Vera Tsignadze and Vakhtang Chabukiani appear for the Bolshoi Theatre audience in Moscow, Russia in 1954 below:

During her life Tsignadze was awarded the title of the People's Artist of Georgia along with other local and international prizes.

Her share in developing Georgian ballet was increasingly recognised over the last decade, with tributes in the media as well as at a special evening of ballet at the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theatre to mark her 90th birthday last year.

In 2015 Tsignadze was awarded the title of the Oracle of Art – the highest prize of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia.

Meanwhile Tbilisi State Opera Ballet Company (State Ballet of Georgia) announced it would hold a performance of the 1949 classical ballet Gorda on Thursday, June 23 in memory of Tsignadze. The ballet was staged by Chabukiani in 1949 and restored in a new redaction to celebrate the reopening of the Tbilisi State Opera following six years of renovation work earlier this year.